Emotions are negative. They were created to teach us detachment. Without detachment we cannot advance very far spiritually. Detachment is giving up our wants, desires, and preferences. It is going about our daily duties, responsibilities, and chores without becoming emotionally involved in the consequences or results; without becoming upset when things don’t turn out as expected.
Detachment also involves something much more difficult. It is not being overcome with grief when we lose someone or something dear to us. It is not becoming too enthusiastic or ecstatic in the very good times. This type of detachment is possible when we realize the continuance of life after death and the overall purpose of life while on earth.
Every time a person becomes angry, they set up negative consequences for themselves. This is the danger in anger and the other emotions. It is pushing us further away from our goal of an Almost Perfect Life.
Effects Of Anger. Every time we become angry, we radiate negative vibrations which upset other people. This is against the universal laws. We are invading the space of other people, not physically, but emotionally and mentally. We set up a negative debt much the same as in a bank statement. At some stage this debt must be repaid so that the balance is either zero or on the positive side.
This means that before we can progress in our quest for an Almost Perfect Life, we must go through some negative experience ourselves that will cancel this debt out.
However, acts of kindness, love, gratitude, humility, sacrifice, and service can also repay this debt. These acts move us along spiritually. But if we have debts to pay first, then these must be cancelled out before we achieve any growth spiritually for our good deeds.
It is very simple, really, but people just don’t seem to be able to grasp the importance of an exemplary life. They believe that they deserve freedom, success, wealth, health, and luxury without lifting a finger. They believe they can disregard the Laws of God and still be happy, carefree, wealthy, and indolent.
The reality is that all these things, and more, can be had. But the price must be paid. The price is acquiring the noble qualities I have already mentioned in previous newsletters. Some of these are self-control, self-discipline, gratitude, humility, and love and service to your fellow-man.
Automatic Reactions To Stimuli
The second part of self-control is control over our automatic reactions to stimuli.
Automatic reactions occur in situations where your safety, well-being, peace of mind, comfort, self-image, health, attitudes, beliefs, and position in society may be threatened.
These automatic reactions are stored in the subconscious mind. I am not going to go into the process that triggers them off except that fear is the main cause of any automatic reaction.
How do you control these automatic reactions? Not all of them are necessarily bad or inconvenient. We need the protection of ducking, for example, when something comes quickly towards our face. We start ducking almost before we see the object.
One fear is fear of snakes. This fear has come into our present life from past lives where it has been caused by unfortunate encounters with them. Many people have this fear because they were murdered, or witnessed others being murdered by snakebite. Rarely were they killed by the snakes themselves without human involvement.
This fear of snakes is an irrational one. The incidence of death from a snakebite is really very rare. Snakes in the wild will avoid people wherever possible. Occasionally, however, they are surprised by someone and may choose to attack rather than retreat.
This has happened to me on a couple of occasions but I have scared the snake off with noise and movement. However, I grew up in an environment where the only good snake was a dead one and they had to be killed or driven off as quickly as possible. The fear was deep in me.
It was a long process of self-education about the truth about snakes and spending a lot of time roaming around the bush on my own that convinced me that this fear was unwarranted. Respect, yes. Caution, yes. Fear, no.
Automatic reactions that are no longer desirable can thus be changed with knowledge and practising a more appropriate reaction. It doesn’t come all at once. It is a long process of self-education. Even now, if a snake is too close when I first see it, I will jump back out of its line of fire.
Can this same process be applied to emotions? Definitely.
Knowledge. Getting the truth about emotions is the first step. The facts must be accepted. They must become a part of our consciousness. The truth must replace faulty beliefs held in the past. Once the truth is accepted, the learning process can begin.
We have to teach our subconscious mind that its normal emotional reaction to situations is inappropriate and there is a better form of behavior.
The subconscious mind is primitive. It does not respond to logic or intellectual reasoning. You can harangue and lecture it till doomsday and it will completely ignore you.
It is like riding a bike or learning to drive a car. You must teach your body to do the actions automatically by repeating them over and over again. Let’s look at an example.
A simple example is someone poking faces at you. As children, this was a favorite pastime because it invariably caused an instant angry reaction. You could taunt someone else and make them feel pretty angry by poking faces at them. Especially if they didn’t like you in the first place. There was nothing more satisfying than poking faces at your enemies when they were powerless to get back at you in any way.
Of course, children find self-control really hard. If we had faces poked at us, it was a killing offense. You had to get back at the other person somehow. You just could not let it go unpunished. So you did everything in your power to find some way to hurt the offender.
As we grow up, our angry reactions to poking faces cools into mild annoyance or complete indifference. This is because our attitude to it has changed. We see it as a childish act produced by an immature mind. We have accepted the reality and taught our subconscious mind not to react whenever someone has poked a face at us.
The Effects Of Negative Emotions. Another huge step in the control of anger, and all other emotions, is the realization of its effect on oneself compared to its effect on the people it is directed towards.
It is certainly true that anger effects the person it is directed towards. If the person is right there, they feel the emotion like a blast of heat or wind. When they are not in sight of the angry person, they pick up the invisible negative vibrations the person is emitting. All the anger in the world affects all the people in the world to a greater or lesser degree depending on their susceptibility to its vibration level.
But these effects are minuscule compared to the effects it is having on the individual feeling the anger. Every angry episode (or negative feeling) produces vibrations at a much higher level in the angry person than it does in the receiver of the anger.
These vibrations affect the vibratory pattern of every cell in the person’s body as well as interfering with the passage of messages from one body system to another. Eventually, the build-up of damage causes life-threatening disorders, mental problems, or emotional problems.
Another reality we must look at is that if we want an Almost Perfect Life, losing our self-control to anger is going to continually frustrate our attempts to achieve it. Happiness, love, fulfillment, contentment, and peace of mind cannot exist in the consciousness that is under the influence of anger.
With the realization of the whole situation regarding anger and other negative emotions, it is easy to make the decision to try to control them. Self-control becomes a goal. The task then is to set the goal in concrete and formulate plans to achieve it.
Ability to Cope. The ability to cope in any situation is a quality that we would all like to have. It is self-control in action. As we move along in our progress towards total self-control, we find it easier to keep a cool head when our thoughts, emotions, and senses are being bombarded with a torrent of impressions.
Everyone feels that they are in over their heads at different times. At other times, we feel that things are out of control and we have lost the plot. We can’t think clearly or find solutions to our problems or answers to our questions. We can’t make a decision because we are overwhelmed by too much going on around us or because of over-involvement emotionally or mentally.
These circumstances create confusion, irritation, anger, and anxiety, and we say we can’t cope. The thing we want most is for everything to go away so that we can find some peace and quiet and forget about everything. Then we would be able to relax and not have to worry about anything.
Self-control gives us this freedom from agitation, aggravation, tension, stress, and uncertainty. How?
One of the first pre-requisites of coping is to be able to remain calm. This, of course, is self-control. When we stay calm, we have a better chance of doing what is most appropriate and beneficial. We don’t want to feel useless, or a burden on anyone, or overwhelmed by circumstances so that we are paralyzed into inaction. This isn’t self-control.
Fears, self-doubt, and lack of self-confidence cause our inability to act appropriately in crises. Self-control, self-confidence, and self-assurance are what we need to cope in all situations.